Triathlon Club does more than run, swim and bike

When Chris Owen went to the Collegiate National Triathlon in Tuscaloosa, Ala., two years ago, he was among some 1,500 students there to compete. Problem was, Chris was there by himself because Marquette had no team or club to support him. Now, the new Triathlon Club he founded on campus has united students with three common interests: running, swimming and biking.

“The mission of our club is to better people athletically,” said Owen, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. “But it’s also important to provide a holistic approach to leading a healthy life and offering a community of other passionate athletes to encourage one another.”

Owen got the idea for the club after he and some friends participated in a triathlon at Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo, Wis., in fall 2008. He later encountered other triathlon enthusiasts around campus who shared his fervor for the endurance-testing sport. Owen estimates the group now has 150 members.

“Basically, it started because the triathlon is too hard of a sport to do alone,” Owen said. “You really need other athletes and friends to feel the full rewards.”

In preparing for triathlons, group members participate in training sessions like swimming clinics to improve their stroke technique. The club also holds regular group bike rides and runs to stay in shape.

“Working out with other people and hearing their workout plans has helped to improve my fitness life and training,” said Megan Flesch, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences.

Currently, the club is training for the 2010 Collegiate National Championship Triathlon in Lubbock, Texas, on April 17. Owen said 16 club members will be competing.

Being physically prepared isn’t the only aspect of training for a triathlon. Owen cited the need to be mentally fit and spiritually healthy.

The group does so by creating an atmosphere of camaraderie between athletes of all experience levels and shaping an environment where club members can encourage and aid those around them, Owen said.

“Knowing that there is a group behind you supporting and pushing you along is a huge help,” said Maureen Ricken, a freshman in the College of Engineering. “It’s always more fun to train with a great group of people than on your own.”

In addition to training, the club participates in charity drives throughout the Milwaukee community. From March 8 to April 16, the club will collect used athletic gear to donate to children who can’t afford the equipment. Owen and club members are asking students to come back from spring break with old gloves and pads.

“We have been planning events that will help out the community,” said Sean Pierce, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences. “It will help people appreciate not only what the Triathlon Club does, but also what Marquette students in general contribute to their community.”

Owen and other members view the club as a way to train, socialize and give back to the community.

“Our club helps strengthen athletes by being around others who lead healthy lifestyles,” Owen said. “Physically able, mentally strong and spiritually fit: all three are traits our club strives to inspire.”